Is the UK a good country to settle in?
Comment: A good offer
The other governments have been very accommodating to London. They swallowed toads in the process. But that was correct. The UK economy needs the EU. But the EU also needs the British. They bring Europe an economic, financial, diplomatic and military weight that the EU would otherwise lack. And the Germans in particular would be pretty much alone without them among reform-resistant petitioners who are primarily interested in permanent transfers.
Probably the most fiercely contested point was the restriction of social benefits for EU foreigners, a problem especially for some Eastern European EU countries, from which many people moved to the UK to work. In London, the alleged social abuse is clearly exaggerated. Foreigners from the EU are much more useful to the British state than they get from it.
DW editor Christoph Hasselbach
However, it has been shown that other countries are also interested in changes. Chancellor Merkel, for example, clearly supported the demand that child benefit payments to EU foreigners whose children live in their home country should be based on the standard of living there. Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen finally claimed that was his idea and called it "a flower in my garden". Perhaps typical of the mood in the EU and also unfair that British Prime Minister Cameron has to take the beating for it, while others quietly benefit.
Now Cameron has to "sell"
The biggest obstacle on the British side, however, is not so much such specific problems, but a general feeling of outside control. Even if you object that no country is sovereign today, that on the contrary, the European union ensures more self-assertion in the world than isolation, Cameron has no choice but to grapple with this perception. It will now take all his talent to sell the agreement to his compatriots. The broadsides of the EU enemies in his own cabinet and the EU-skeptical press will now last until the referendum.
Any arrangement, however generous, is useless if done without the host of the British people. The worst thing would be for the EU to have come to terms with Britain to the point of self-denial - and in the end the British would vote in favor of leaving in the referendum.
Then there would probably be no stopping it. Then other skeptical nations could possibly leave. At the very least, other states will threaten to leave in order to enforce special requests. In the end there would not be much left of a European "Union" in the literal sense of the word.
The refugee crisis factor
It is tragic that the conflict with Great Britain falls in the middle of the refugee crisis. The British - but also the other Europeans - see how helpless the EU is in this crisis. Many have the impression that only courageous national action will really bring something. And the British in particular also have a particular problem with Chancellor Merkel's open refugee policy. Should Germany make several million refugees and migrants EU citizens in a few years, they would also have the right to settle in Great Britain. From a British perspective, it would be undesirable immigration through the back door. British politicians have repeatedly stressed that the EU opponents' recent lead in the polls was due to this.
A referendum this summer under the impression of thousands of migrants a day pouring uncontrolled into the EU could turn out negative for this reason alone. That is why a referendum a little later would be better if Europe - hopefully - has the situation better under control.
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